Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and David Vitter (R-LA) last week introduced legislation to stop the multiple procedure payment reduction (MPPR) from going into effect on the professional component of Medicare advanced diagnostic imaging reimbursement.
The Diagnostic Imaging Services Access Protection Act ( S. 623) seeks to reverse the 25% MPPR cut to reimbursement for interpretation of scans performed on the same patient, in the same session. According to the American College of Radiology (ACR), radiologists are ethically obligated to read each image with the same amount of time and attention regardless of whether the images were taken at one time or at different times, so cutting reimbursement for reads on subsequent scans makes no sense. The cut also ignores the importance of sub-specialty reads for patients with serious and complicated medical problems, the ACR adds. Furthermore, it would not reduce the number of scans ordered at one time because the radiologists who would feel the impact of the cut are typically not the ones who order the scans.
This Medicare funding cut affects care for the most sick or injured patients — such as those with massive head and body trauma, stroke or widespread cancer — who often require interpretations by different doctors to survive, the ACR press release stated.
S. 623 is the companion bill to the House bill H.R. 846, which has racked up 77 co-sponsors from both parties since it was introduced earlier this year. Both bills are reintroductions of the MPPR bills from the last session of Congress that died in committee at the end of the year. In 2012, there was simply no legislative vehicle to bring the legislation up for a vote even though it enjoyed widespread support by members of both parties as measured by number of co-sponsors on the House and Senate bills.
“The ACR thanks Senators Cardin and Vitter for joining the House members who are standing against this arbitrary cut that does nothing to ensure appropriate care, does not affect the number of scans ordered, and does a disservice to those caring for what are the most vulnerable of Medicare patients. I strongly urge the House and Senate to pass the Diagnostic Imaging Services Access Protection Act,” said Paul H. Ellenbogen, MD, FACR, chair of the American College of Radiology Board of Chancellors.